The Best Places to Visit in Israel: Exploring Israel’s Historical Sites and Natural Wonders.

Israel Travel Guide - The Best Places to Visit in Israel

Due to Israel’s 70 year history of conflict, terrorism is always a threat. However, this is primarily concentrated in certain areas and most locations are relatively safe by American standards.

Learning to bargain is essential in Israel. It is a very shoppable country, and prices are often negotiable. Also be aware that Jewish holidays (Shabbat) cause many shops and restaurants to close.

The Dead Sea

Located in the Middle East, near Jerusalem, this sea is the lowest exposed place on Earth. It is too salty for aquatic life to survive, but it’s a remarkable place to visit.

The evaporating salts leave stunning formations along the shore, like small spheres of salt pebbles, large mushroom-like structures and tall salt chimneys. The Dead Sea is dotted with Israeli hotel resorts, where tourists float in the water and lather its mineral-rich mud on their skin.

But the sea may be disappearing before our eyes. It needs an infusion of 160 billion gallons of freshwater a year to maintain its current size, and it’s only getting about 10 percent of that. Overpumping and mineral extraction have caused the lake to recede at a rate of three feet a year, and Friends of the Earth says it may not be able to recover. Fortunately, a rain-fed aquifer supplies some of the water used by hotels and a handful of private pools.

The Golan Heights

During the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria and annexed it in 1981. It’s an important military site, and the rocky plateau—which overlooks Israel’s industrial heartland—is strategically significant in the face of a hostile neighbour.

But the Jewish connection to the region dates back much farther, as the area was known in Biblical times. It’s a region of many hills and peaks, and the word “Golan” probably derives from the city of Golan in Bashan mentioned in Deuteronomy and Joshua (Deuteronomy 4:43; Joshua 20:8).

Despite Netanyahu’s uncompromising position on the Golan, he has pursued back channel diplomacy with Syria in hopes of reviving peace talks. The move will bolster his re-election chances but may also spur international opposition. The Golan is home to a number of hotels, restaurants, and bed-and-breakfast facilities, as well as 13 nature reserves and three Society for the Protection of Nature field schools. It is also the site of Israel’s only ski resort, Mount Hermon.


Jerusalem is the most sacred city for Jews, Christians and Muslims. It is also known as the “Holy City.” It was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Judah under kings David and Solomon. It is referred to in the Book of Revelation as the “New Jerusalem” and represents a heavenly city that will be established at the end of time.

It is also a holy site for Christians as it is where Jesus was crucified and buried. Thousands of Christian pilgrims visit the city each year to complete their spiritual journey and connect with Jesus.

The city of Jerusalem has many orthodox neighborhoods and religious sites, so modest clothing is recommended. Long pants or skirts are required and shirts with sleeves that go below the elbow are preferred. A scarf is also helpful in a colder climate. It is important to be aware that the Jewish Sabbath (Friday sundown through Saturday) is observed and most restaurants and other places close down.

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is a fun, international city with a perfect beach/city mix. This UNESCO World Heritage site has amazing architecture, street art, and nightlife. It's a great home base for day trips all over Israel.

Spring and fall are the best times for a visit to Tel Aviv, as it's not too hot or too expensive. In the summer, tourists swarm here to get a tan and enjoy all that this vibrant city has to offer.

The area around Rothschild Boulevard is the heart of old Tel Aviv and has been dubbed the White City. It's a stunning collection of Bauhaus, and eclectic styled buildings. Join a walking tour to learn about the history and architecture of this unique area.

You'll also find the beautiful promenade is popular with joggers and walkers, as well as being wheelchair friendly. Make sure you pack comfortable runners, and don't forget a sunhat and sunglasses. Don't be alarmed if you see armed soldiers on the streets; it's normal for a country in turmoil to have security measures like these.

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Discovering Israel: History, Culture, People, Food, and Weather

Travelling to Israel Without a Visa

If you are a citizen of the United States, Australia or Europe you will be able to enter Israel without a visa. This is great news!

You’ll see armed soldiers everywhere in Israel, but don’t be alarmed. They are there for security purposes.

The Sabbath, which runs from sundown on Friday to Saturday night, closes the city of Jerusalem and most businesses. Plan your trip accordingly.

The History

Israel’s storied history is rich and complex. Religious and secular visitors will discover a wide range of ancient religious landmarks and sites that are revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Then there are modern-day Israel, a city that’s cool, pulsing with street art in neighborhoods like Florentin and Neve Zedek, open food and antique markets and a plethora of inimitable bars and restaurants. Modern Tel Aviv is also home to a growing LGBT community.

Travelers who want to dig deeper can follow the Jesus Trail – a hiking and pilgrimage route that connects many of the places where it is believed Jesus lived and worked, including Nazareth, Sepphoris, Cana (Kafr Kanna), the Horns of Hattin, and the Golan Heights. It’s recommended that you visit with a guide or have access to local healthcare and medical support while travelling, particularly if you are a dual national.

The People

Israel's residents are largely Jewish, and they are very proud of their heritage. However, the country is also known as a secular democracy and has an active LGBT community.

Israelis are well traveled and receptive to American culture. The United States is the top long-distance destination for Israeli travelers, who visit for shopping, sightseeing, fine dining and national parks.

Almost all Israelis speak English (extremely well) and are happy to practice their language skills with visitors. You'll also see many Israelis whizzing around town on electric scooters and bikes, especially in Tel Aviv.

Israel has a dynamic Middle Eastern landscape, encompassing coastal plains, central hills, vast swaths of desert, valleys and one of the world's lowest-elevation lakes. Check the Department of State's travel alerts for Israel and the West Bank before planning your trip.

The Culture

Israel's cultural scene is vibrant and modern. Street art dots Tel Aviv's hip neighborhoods, open-air markets are plentiful and a thriving nightlife is in evidence.

Israeli cuisine is a melting pot of regional and continental influences, with traditional Ashkenazi and Sephardic flair. Many Birthright Israel participants cite discovering a newfound respect for Jewish culture as one of the most meaningful experiences of their trip.

Israel can be a pricey destination if you visit during the peak summer months and choose to stay in high-end hotels, but it is also affordable if you travel during low or shoulder seasons, stay at short-term apartment rentals, hostels or kibbutzim. Israeli tourism is booming, and visitors are often surprised at how much the country has to offer. The country has a high level of innovation in medicine and health, science, space and transportation, agriculture, social impact, and safety and security.

The Food

A foodie’s paradise, Israel is filled with flavourful cuisine from the many cultures that have shaped its history. Israeli eating customs follow the wider Mediterranean region, with lunch rather than dinner being the main meal of the day.

Among the popular street foods to try are falafel (deep-fried balls or patties made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, herbs and spices), hummus, mutabak and kanafeh. Cheese lovers will love kasav, paper-thin filo dough stuffed with crumbled cheese and nuts and baked into envelope shape.

Kosher restaurants are abundant and many display kosher certificates outside. You can also visit vegetarian or vegan restaurants. To avoid potential issues at airports, it’s a good idea to carry all permitted food items in your checked baggage. If you’re travelling with children, remember to pack some favourite toys and a book or two to keep them entertained in case of delays.

The Weather

Israel has a temperate Mediterranean climate with hot summers and cool to warm winters. It’s an ideal destination year-round, but some months are better for visiting certain areas or enjoying specific activities.

In Jerusalem, the first half of June is pleasantly comfortable for sightseeing and touring. The sea is warm enough for swimming, but as you approach midsummer it gets crowded with jellyfish.

The best time for beach relaxation is in early June or late September. During these months, you can enjoy Tel Aviv’s street art and open-air markets or a stroll along golden sandy beaches. Keep in mind that during religious holidays, prices are higher and hotels fill up faster. Maintain a high level of situational awareness in the Golan Heights and other border regions, as rocket attacks are still possible.

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Israel Travel Guide – Top 5 Places to Visit on Your Israel Vacation

Israel Travel Guide - Top 5 Places to See on Your Israel Vacation

Due to 70 years of conflict, terrorism is a constant threat in Israel. While concentrated areas of terrorism exist, visitors are generally safe as long as they follow common sense guidelines.

Get a Rav Kav – Israeli’s public transportation magnetic card – as soon as you arrive and make sure to keep it with you at all times!

1. Stay in the Old City

The Old City is where you’ll find the most important and significant historic sites in Jerusalem. You’ll be able to walk around and explore all of the most interesting attractions on your own or with a guide.

One of the best times to visit Jerusalem is in autumn when temperatures are still warm but bearable and the crowds are smaller. Alternatively, springtime can also be a great time to go, especially for families with children.

The popular Dan Boutique Jerusalem Hotel offers a trendy design that has gained global recognition among young travelers and is only a twenty-minute walk from the Old City. Another option is Musrara, a historic neighborhood that’s filled with quaint buildings and a unique flair. Here you’ll find many art schools and galleries.

2. Explore Tel Aviv

With its hot artistic vibe, miles of beautiful beaches and fascinating neighborhoods, Tel Aviv deserves more attention from travelers than it usually gets. Spend a few days exploring this glam Mediterranean metropolis on your own or join a guided tour of Tel Aviv and Jaffa.

During the day, walk along the gorgeous Rothschild Boulevard to admire its Bauhaus architecture and take in the city’s bustling street life. Alternatively, explore the streets of Neve Tzedek to discover its cobblestone nooks and crannies. Lastly, check out the new Sarona Market (similar to Chelsea Market in NYC) for a day filled with food, drinks and shopping.

Many people visit Tel Aviv for its beaches and a stroll at the Hilton Beach is a great way to relax in the sun. You can also try a new water sport such as surfing or the growing sport of stand up paddleboarding.

3. Get a taste of the Dead Sea

Floating in the Dead Sea is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. This lowest place on Earth beckons visitors with healing mineral waters, oases teeming with wild animals and world-class historical sites.

The best time to visit the Dead Sea is from April to late October (summer) or November to March (winter). Avoid visiting during Jewish holidays.

To get the most out of your experience, be sure to bring swimwear & a towel to relax in the water & lather yourself in its famous mud. It’s also important to bring something to drink, as the salty sea can sting your eyes. Remember, Israelis are direct and may speak bluntly. Be prepared to haggle – prices are always negotiable.

4. Stay in Galilee

Located in northern Israel, the Galilee is home to the Lake of Galilee (also known as Lake Kinneret) and a number of cities ringing it such as Tiberias. It’s a popular destination for Christian tours to Israel as it’s where Jesus began his ministry. Other attractions include the Mount of Beatitudes where he preached and Yardenit Baptismal Site.

The best time to visit the Galilee is in spring or fall, when temperatures are moderate. Summers can be hot and humid; winters are colder but still quite pleasant. Women visiting Israel find that locals are generally very respectful of them and it’s uncommon to receive unwanted attention, especially if you are traveling solo. This is a very communal country where people are always happy to help you.

5. Visit Eilat

Eilat is a great place to relax on the beach and take part in water centered activities. The Underwater Observatory and Dolphin Reef are both popular attractions for visitors with families.

Besides relaxing on the beaches it's also possible to practice other water sports such as windsurfing and sailing on the Red Sea. Mosh Beach on Derekh Mitzrayim is an excellent option for those looking to enjoy a non-commercial Eilat experience with a young bohemian atmosphere.

In addition to swimming, snorkeling and shopping there are also a variety of entertainment options such as cinemas, clubs and restaurants. The King Solomon Promenade comes alive at night with fun family friendly activities, amusement rides and delicious food. It's also worth visiting the impressive Ein Avdat National Park, peaceful Ben-Gurion's Tomb and vast Makhtesh Ramon while in Eilat.

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